Neta Elkayam, singer and multi-disciplinary artist, is introducing the wonderful spirit of North African mothers to the cosmopolitan music scene. In recent years, Elkayam has established an impressive career and has performed around the world with artists such as Maurice El Mediouni, Raymonde El Bidaouia, Abir El Abed, Abdeslam Sefiani, the Jerusalem Andalusian Orchestra conducted by Tom Cohen, Dudu Tassa, and more. Elkayam’s family comes from the Maghreb – her father was born in Tighrir, and her mother is from Casablanca. An outstanding graduate of The Visual Arts Center at the Kaye Academic College of Education and recipient of the 2017 ACUM Award she currently lives in and leads her creative life from Jerusalem.
Elkayam composes and performs a contemporary version of North African music, incorporating Andalusian, Berber and Middle Eastern influences as well as rock, pop and Jewish liturgical Piyyut. Among her musical projects, she has led a tribute show to the diva of Moroccan Jewry, vocalist Zohara Al Fassia, a tribute show to Algerian singers Line Monty and Reinette L’oranaise, accompanied by legendary pianist Maurice El Mediouni, and a show dedicated to one of the greatest Moroccan Jewish poets, David Ben Aharon Ben Hassin.
Her new show ARÉNAS, created with artist and musical producer Amit Hai Cohen, is inspired by information from researcher Issachar Ben-Ami of the Jewish Music Research Centre, where she found recordings of women of the Atlas Mountains. They sang while staying at the Grand Arénas Jewish immigrant transit camp in Marseille. On stage, accompanied by keyboards and a computer, trumpet and double bass, Elkayam’s mesmerizing deep singing voice adds to the creation of a versatile, intimate and energetic sound. Electronic and tribal bits connect with each other, with the voices of women in the transit camp, and jazz, Middle Eastern and hip-hop melodies. In this show in Eilat, she hosts her good friend and a fascinating artist, Ravid Kahalani. He is the founder of the successful musical project Yemen Blues, singer, captivating stage persona, and a Gimbri player, a string instrument borrowed from the West African Gnawa tradition.
Elkayam’s link to the music of the Maghreb is spiritual and deep, and has become through persistence and labor a true life-long project. Elkayam sings in the mothers tongue and everything seems to be opening – ancient worlds are coming to life revealing thousands of new glaring nuances.
Neta Elkayam – ARÉNAS
Neta Elkayam Vocals
Amit Hai Cohen Music Producer, Adaptation, Keyboards and Computer
Tal Avraham Trumpet
Gal Maestro Double Bass
Ravid Khalani Gimbri, Vocals
Gabriel Mandel Sound Engineering
Idan Avidani Production Management
Photo by Zohar Ron + Estwanat Hai